Anecdotes, Poetry and Incidents of the War: North and South. 1860-1865.
Collected and Arranged by Frank Moore, published 1867
John Bray, of the First New Jersey cavalry, thus describe§ his escape from
“On Sunday morning I made my final attempt to escape. Arranging necessary preliminaries with a comrade, I passed down stairs with the detail sent for provisions, wearing my blanket, and keeping as much as possible under cover of those whom I was about to leave. Reaching the yard, which was filled with rebel soldiers, I suddenly, upon a favorable opportunity, slipped the blanket from my shoulders to those of my chum, and stepping quickly into the throng, stood, to all appearance, a rebel, having precisely their uniform, and looking as dirty and ragged as the worst among them. But I was not yet free. The point now was to get out of the yard. To do this it was necessary to pass the sentinels at the gates, all of which were thus guarded. My wits, however, difficult as I knew my enterprise to be, did not desert me. With an air of unconcern, whistling the “Bonnie Blue Flag,” I sauntered towards the nearest gate, paused a moment as I neared it to laugh with the rest at some joke of one of the guard; then, abstractedly, and with deliberate pace, as if passing in and out had been such a customary affair with me as to make any formal recognition of the sentinels unnecessary, I passed out. That my heart throbbed painfully under my waistcoat, and that I expected every moment to hear the dread summons, “Halt!” you need not be told. An age of feeling was crowded into that moment. But I passed out unchallenged. Whether it was that my nonchalant air put the sentinels off their guard, or that they were for the moment absorbed in the joke at which all the soldiers were laughing, I cannot tell; nor does it matter. I was free; the whole world was before me; and my whole being was aglow with that thought. I had still dangers, it was true, to encounter, but the worst was past, and I felt equal to any that might lie before.”